I was really hoping my third race of the year could be a good one.
We were back at the You Yangs, where I know my way around. It has nice, soft, sandy trails. Mischa's mum came out to watch, to be a lucky charm. I was looking forward to a nice, clean run. To show Mischa's mum how much fun Mischa-moo was having. To let J finally get a picture of me racing our wonderful two dog team in day light.
It was not to be.
Instead, I got really stressed at the start chute. I forgot pieces of kit and SB had to run to fetch it. J wasn't handling for me and Czar was nuts, lunging at other teams and carrying on badly. Finally we got to the front of the queue, but our take-off felt sluggish.
We headed off down the straight, and I realized that the soft track was slowing us down a bit. Mischa was still working her heart out. Czar was loping along smoothly. But we weren't flying.
We chased the Jedi team ahead of us, but they were starting to pull away as we reached the corner. Czar took the turn beautifully and we headed down the second straight.
It was still very sandy, and was cut by deep dry creek beds. I negotiated one dip successfully but somewhere through the next, much shallower one, I crashed again. This time I tried to hang on to the scooter, but again, it was wrenched out of my hands. I shouted to the dogs to stop, and fortunately they did.
I picked myself and the scooter up. The dogs were keen, so we took off. A moment later, I realized I was holding the crooked handlebars at a funny angle to keep the scooter straight. I called to the dogs to stop and wait so I could twist the handlebars back. They weren't happy, so as soon as I could, we took off again. Even slower than before.
I'm not sure what I noticed next, the smell or the stiffness in the back wheel. The smell was burning rubber. The stiffness was the rear brakes rubbing on the back wheel. I tried to stop and look but the dogs pulled me on. I tried running alongside the scooter, but the back wheel locked up completely. Oh dear.
After maybe 100m of this, I decided I had to scratch. The dogs were still trying to pull, but they were tiring quickly with the added resistance. I'd made a bad mistake the week before, over exerting them, and I didn't want to repeat that error. So, I stopped and rang J. He was actually corner marshall only a little way ahead, and he'd been watching my headlights limp along. He knew there was a problem, and that I wouldn't pull out easily.
Because J was trail boss for this race, the car was full of stakes and markers. The dogs had to go in the cab rather than behind the puppy bars in the tray. Then the question was how to transport the scooter.
J had a look and realized that part of the problem was that the rear quick release had been knocked out of position. He shifted the wheel back to its proper spot and secured the quick release latch, and the wheel moved smoothly again. I started scooting back to camp, with J driving slowly along behind me. After a short distance on the sandy soil, I felt exhausted - and sore where I had banged my knee and shoulder when I fell. J took the scooter back, attached the two dog line to the back of the car, and rode the scooter back into camp. I drove slowly, watching him carefully in the wing mirror, heart in my mouth. He kept yelling "faster, faster!"
We made quite a sight as we arrived back to camp!!